Two leaves from a richly illuminated Breviary, in Latin with French rubrics, manuscript on parchment [France (Paris), second half of fourteenth century]
Two separate leaves, each with double column of 36 lines in a fine gothic hand, with notable lateral compression, capitals with delicate hairline penwork, red rubrics, contemporary foliation ('xx iiii': text from end of the Hour of None and the beginning of the Hour of Vespers to be said on the Feast of Corpus Christi; and 'xx iiii xix': text from end of the Hour of Second Vespers followed by the beginning of the Hour of Lauds to be said on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in red at centre of top of rectos, one-line initial in gold or blue with contrasting penwork, with geometric line-fillers in same, 2-line initials in blue or pale pink heightened with white penwork, enclosing sprigs of coloured foliage on burnished gold grounds, each leaf with one very large initial, one enclosing densely curled coloured foliage on gold grounds, the other with a grinning red face with foliage emerging from its mouth and ears (probably meant to be a lion, compare the decoration of another contemporary French Book of Hours, offered in our rooms, 6 December 2017, lot 61), full decorated borders (including inner margins) of thin gold and coloured bars with snarling dragons at head of pages, geometric panels at feet, and sprays of foliage, text borders in same on innermost sides of both columns on reverses of both leaves, modern pencil foliation '170' on one leaf, slightly trimmed at edges with small losses from border decoration, small smudges and spots, else excellent condition, each leaf 237 by 173mm.
1. The parent manuscript of this glittering Breviary was written and illuminated in Paris in the second half of the fourteenth century, most probably for a Franciscan house dedicated to St. Aegidius/Gilles (with references on some leaves to that saint as 'our patron').
2. It was most probably initially dispersed in the late 1920s or early 1930s, with leaves first appearing in Quaritch's cat. for 1931, nos. 127 and 128 (each item advertising 'a few leaves' from the manuscript). Other leaves can be found in a bequest by Lord Cholmondeley of 2 leaves to the Society for Italic Handwriting; a UK private collection, bought from Quaritch in 1950 (these with the address to St. Aegidius as 'our patron' in prime from the office of that saint; Sotheby's, 5 April 1976, part of lot 601, the teaching collection of A.N.L. Munby, illustrated in frontispiece image there; Sotheby's, 19 June 1979, lot 3 (this described later in Sotheby's December 1994, as then in a Swiss collection); Christie's, New York, September 1981, lot 16; Sotheby's, 8 December 1981, lot 3; Quaritch, cat. 1056, Bookhands of the Middle Ages II (1985), no. 69; Sotheby's, 24 June 1986, lot 50; Sotheby's, 22 June 1988, lot 11; and Maggs Bros., Bulletin 10 (June 1979), that now Tokyo, Keio University Library.
3. The first of the present leaves acquired from North American trade in 2002, who had in turn acquired it from a private collector in San Francisco; the second leaf here was acquired in McTear's 1842 Auctions, Glasgow, 19 July 2019, lot 1684.